Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

How photos & life inspire poetry at a Mankato exhibit April 25, 2016

THE VARIETY OF POETRY a single photo can inspire always amazes me. As do other poets.

At the recent opening of Image and the Word 9 at the Emy Frentz Gallery in Mankato, I mingled with poets. One writes a poem a day. Amazing.

Each year for the past several, I’ve participated in this exhibit which features inspirational photos and reactionary poems by southern Minnesota photographers and writers. I wrote four poems, including one about my automotive machinist husband, Randy. A photo of laced work boots prompted that personal poem.


Chippewa boots have replaced athletic shoes.

A photo similar to this inspired the poem about my husband. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


My Husband at the End of His Work Day

Leather boots lace your aching feet.
Grease outlines your fingernails.
Oil smudges stain your standard blue uniform.
You come home bone-weary, eat, shower, change,
then settle into the recliner with your Sudoku.
Your head nods. You are napping
long before the ten o’clock news,
just like every other hard-working blue collar man.


Standing in a small circle with poets Henry, Ed and Susan, I agreed that our experiences often shape our poetry. Consider that the next time you read a poem. We concurred also that we love words. As a poet, there’s a deep sense of joy and fulfillment in words falling together. Sometimes, oftentimes, we don’t understand how that happens. But when it does, it’s magical. It’s poetry.

FYI: The Image and the Word 9 exhibit will run through May 18 at the Emy Frentz Gallery, 523 South Second Street, Mankato. Gallery hours are from noon to 4 p.m. each weekday except Thursday, when hours are 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. Southern Minnesota Poets Society members Yvonne Cariveau and Derek Liebertz produce the exhibit annually.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


20 Responses to “How photos & life inspire poetry at a Mankato exhibit”

  1. I like short poems that don’t strain my brain to understand them or wear me out with their length or depth. In other words, I like this poem!

  2. Beautiful – the Simple Things at times are the Most Inspiring and Though Provoking – thanks so much for sharing 🙂 Happy Week – Enjoy!

  3. Don Says:

    Your poem hit the proverbial nail on the head, it is so indicative of life. I can see in my minds eye, the scene, the chair, the nodding head, yes I understand it completely! Great down to earth poem………………

  4. Jackie Says:

    I like the photo of the boots…and I like your poem!

  5. Just Beautiful, my darling 🙂 x

  6. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Great poem. Sounds like a good hardworking man.

  7. Sue Ready Says:

    The photo alone speaks volumes and conjures up a variety of images especially when paired with a sharp no nonsense poem. Hope to see the other three poems posted in near future 🙂

  8. “These Boots”

    These boots are the very essence
    of the working soul
    from the farmer on the fruited plain
    to the miner digging coal.
    These boots they are a symbol
    of all who toil and sweat
    and everyday they’re donned again
    because the work, it ain’t done yet
    These boots should be a reminder
    of how this country came to be
    and some boots too by heroes worn
    have kept our country free.


    Inspirational photo Audrey.

  9. I love the poem. My husband worked as an auto-mechanic for about 4 years, and now has a new job as a maintenance mechanic for a recycling company. He has worn through many work boots since I’ve known him, and he often falls asleep long before 10, “just like every other hard-working blue collar man.”


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